Scofield’s “Sixth Dispensation of Grace”
Dispensational Premillennialism further holds that, besides the several dispensations which we have passed in review in the former Chapters, there are also the dispensations of “grace” and of the “kingdom.” According to Scofieldian dispensationalism, the time of “grace” is in no way the same as the time of the dispensation of “the kingdom.” The kingdom begins at the time of the “rapture,” the secret return of Christ. The “kingdom” is really Jewish in nature; it belongs to national Israel in contradistinction from the “Church.”
Writes Scofield in his “notes” on John 1:17, “as a dispensation grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 3:21, 22; Rom. 4:25, 26). The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation (John 1:12, 13; John 3:36; Matt. 21:37; Matt. 22:42; John 15:22; Heb. 1:2; I John 5:10-12). The immediate result of this testing was the rejection of Christ by the Jews, and His crucifixion by Jew and Gentile (Acts 4:27). The predicted end of the testing of man under grace is the apostasy of the church (see apostasy— I Tim. 3:1-8 note) and the resultant apocalyptic judgments.”
From this quotation it is quite evident that Scofield, and those following his teaching, teach that there is no law in any sense in the dispensation of grace, and that there is no grace in the dispensation of law.
Let us take a look at what the Scriptures teach on this point, and then consider whether “Dispensationalism” believes and teaches all the Prophetic Scriptures.
We hold they do not believe all the Scriptures.
The position of the dispensationalist does not do justice to the key passage in John 1:17 (supra) “for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
It ought to be evident that Scofield, in quoting this Scripture, thinks of the “law” as being in absolute contrast with “grace and truth”; the two, according to him, have nothing in common. However, Scofield, and many others with him, overlook the true meaning of this text; he misinterprets. He overlooks the grand fact that the conjunction “for,” in verse 17, assigns the reason why in the New Testament dispensation “we all” have received from Christ’s fullness, grace for grace. In the Old Testament the believers also received from the covenant, blessings. They too received the forgiveness of sins and obtained joy and peace from the sacrifices in the temple, but they did not receive the fullness (plerooma) which is the full measure of the grace in the crucified, risen and glorified Christ. They did not yet receive from Him, Whom Paul calls the Son, in Whom all “the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9). The rivers do not yet flow from the bowels of the believers (John 7:37-39). The waters, which Jesus gives, now become in those who receive it by a true and living faith “a fountain of living waters, springing up unto everlasting life” (John 4:13, 14).
Did not the prophet Ezekiel write, “and by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it shall bring forth new fruit according to its months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary; the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine”?
Here Ezekiel speaks of the effect of the waters of the Holy Spirit as they flow from the temple and as they become a veritable river of life. And did Jesus not say in John 7:38, “as the Scripture hath said, out of His belly shall flow rivers of water”? Hence, this is the fullness of Christ, the Fountain, as this is revealed in the church, which is the fullness of Him Who filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23).
In the Old Testament we had “‘the law” as given by Moses. This law was first given to Moses through angels at Sinai (Gal. 3:19, 20; Heb. 2:2). However, the “law” in John 1:17 is not a mere “do this and thou shalt live thereby” (Lev. 18:5; Gal. 3:12; Rom. 10:5). It refers to the entire lawgiving in the temple in which Moses was a faithful servant (Heb. 3:2). This was the old temple of the old dispensation, the shadows and types which portrayed the Christ to come. But Christ is the Builder of the true temple, the abiding house of God (Heb. 3:6).
In the Old Testament we have a Moses in the cleft of the rock, as the LORD passes by to show him His glory. In that Old Testament dispensation “no (sinful!) man might see God and live” (Ex. 33:19, 20). Yet, Moses might hear the great Name of the LORD proclaimed by God as His glory passes by. It must be remembered that this was the glory which did not yet come in full grace and truth; it did speak of this glory to come. The form of that glory was that it spoke of the future when the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God would be preached to Jew and Gentile alike (I Tim. 1:11). That would be grace and truth.
And this grace and truth became for us a reality in the incarnation of the Son of God, in His death, resurrection, and ascension. Did not God come to tabernacle in our midst as the most blessed God? Yes, when Jesus died He said, “It is finished.” And when the soldier pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, from the riven side flowed forthwith “blood and water” (John 19:30, 34).
Thus a fountain was opened in Jacob.
Literally we read in Zechariah 13:1, “In that day there shall a fountain be opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”
Such are the grace and truth of the blessings spoken of in Psalm 25:10: “all the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep His commandments and testimonies.”
Grace was fully revealed in the Word made flesh!
However, grace was also revealed in the Old. Testament dispensation. Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD (Gen. 6:8). The Psalms are replete with God’s grace and mercy to the Old Testament saints. This we read, “but Thou, O LORD, art a God full of compassion, and gracious and longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Ps. 86:15); “the LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy” (Ps. 103:8); “the LORD is gracious and full of compassion” (Ps. 11:4b); “unto the righteous there ariseth light in darkness: He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteousness” (Ps. 112:4); “Gracious is the LORD and righteous; yea, our God is merciful” (Ps. 116:5); the LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great mercy” (Ps. 145:8).
Need we quote yet also Psalm 136 with its refrain “for His mercy endureth forever”?
In the context of John 1:17 we read of Jesus, “He came unto His own things (temple, etc.) but His own received Him not. Yet as many as did receive Him, to them He gave power to be called the children of God, who were born not out of flesh, nor out of blood, nor by the will of man, but who were born out of God (John 1:11-13).
Yes, there was grace in the Old Testament under the shadows and types! However, now that Christ has come we receive showers of blessings. “And I will make them places about My hill of blessing; there shall be showers of blessing” (Ezek. 34:25).
John the Baptist cried of this Jesus in the wilderness.
Now we ask once more: is it really true that there was no grace in the Old Testament of God? Did “grace and truth” in the real sense of the term, first become the portion of the saints after Calvary, or was there a certain revelation of grace and a participation in it by faith and hope for the Old Testament saints?
Scofield says there was not!
The Bible teaches that there was such grace in Him Who was the surety of this grace in the Old Testament (Heb. 7:22).
When we take a hard look at John 1:17 and we notice that in Moses’ law we see the promisory Gospel, while in Christ Jesus, the Word made flesh, we see the fullness of these blessings, from which both Jew and Greek received.
We all received from this fullness.
Grace for grace!
And this grace for grace is super-abundant measure of grace. It speaks of the streams of mercy never ending—waters which flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb. And these waters are for the trees of the garden of the heavenly Paradise, which are for the healing of the nations.
No, the Old Testament saints were not merely under a legal regiment of a legal code of conduct. It was not a mere testing of men to save themselves by keeping the law. Such was the interpretation of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day; and such is the teaching in the Talmud. And Scofield is in the camp of the latter in his teaching of the dispensation of law.
But the Scriptures always held before the people of God in the Old Testament the Rest which was prepared for them; it was the rest not of Joshua in the earthly promised land, but it was the true “Sabbatismus” which was always spoken of as “another day” (Heb. 4:8, 9). Into that rest David and all the Old Testament saints strove to enter in hope. They saw that the Christ was the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Rom. 10:4).
Let us then believe all the Scriptures, and cherish in our hearts the beautiful and evangelical answer in Ques. 19 of the Heidelberg Catechism which goes as follows,
“. . . from the holy Gospel, which God Himself first revealed in Paradise; afterwards published by the patriarchs and prophets, and represented by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; and lastly, has fulfilled in His only begotten Son.”
Such was the fullness promised.
Such is the fullness which we now all received: grace for grace.